A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

Keeping the Main Thing People

I remember reading in one of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad books that the rich dad knew what business he was really in. He then used Ray Kroc as an example of remembering that he wasn’t in the restaurant business, he was in the land business. Now, I have no doubt in some sense that is true. For those wanting to be millionaires and branching into franchising, real estate is where the business lies. But I think we need to remember that even more fundamentally, we are all in the people business.

I bring this up only because I’m weak in this area and just this week I have received a strong reminder from some folks who have my best interests at heart that I need to work on this. I’m a choleric, task-oriented person. I usually focus on getting something done, moving from project to project and when I’m behaving most naturally I relate to people only as they are involved in helping complete the same tasks. When you understand that, you can understand why I can walk past 20 people, never say a word and not even realize I passed them. I’m on a mission to get a job done, to check to make sure something was done or to make sure something is going to get done. But while in that mode, I’m failing to get my most important job done. I’m failing to forge those relationships that will really help me and provide the most fulfillment for me and those around me.

Here is the major down side of this natural tendency. Folks see me as arrogant, cliquish, proud, haughty and just in general a jerk. Let me tell you, that persona does absolutely nothing for helping me accomplish the tasks I need to get done and I need to encourage others to do. That persona won’t help you a bit either.

The solution? I have to remember what business I’m really in. I have to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. I have to remember to keep the main thing people. 

Here is what you need to understand. You can produce like nobody’s business. You can have your time management down to a science and an art. You can excel at every aspect of your job. But if you don’t make people your main business, you will still lose business. If people can’t say, “I’m better because I bumped into _______ today,” you will never achieve your potential.

How about we both work on keeping people our main business. We can do it with baby steps. I’m going to take a bit of advice from John Maxwell’s Winning with People and walk slowly through the crowd. I’m going to make sure that my task stuff is done before I am with people so when I’m around them, I can keep them my main focus.

Give me some feedback on this. What have you done to help make sure you keep the main thing people?

October 9, 2008 - Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Being human, People, Relationships, Success | , , , , ,


  1. Brother,
    I appreciate your openness and vulnerability.
    I hope this doesn’t sound boastful, but for me the area of “people” is where I excel the most.
    I honestly can’t answer as to whether it was/is natural for me or something I have worked on.
    I know the past several years, I have focused my Christianity on pure discipleship. That is to say, learning from and imitating my Master and Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ. I have found myself desiring right attitudes and relationships as opposed to right answers. Perfection of character vs. perfection of knowledge. For me, this has been liberating and has profoundly helped my ‘success’ in bringing people to know and have a relationship with the same Savior as I.
    The Christ on earth was all about people. Love, compassion, frustration, anger, friendship, etc. Read the gospels again and again. See the Man behind the message. Pray daily for wisdom and discretion. Practically speaking, get out of your office and go down to the local salvation army and hug a few strangers. Take a bible and show them how you have found joy in this life of sorrow.
    Squat down and get eye to eye with the children of a single mom on welfare. Smile at them. Give them a lollipop. And then stand up face to face with the mother and tell her that you love and care about her.
    Brother, it is this type of ministry that has brought many lost souls to Christ in Chillicothe. It is this type of ministry that has brought me, personally, from the bondage of finding the right answer to the right answer finding a soul in the bondage of sin.
    Sorry to get preachy. You just struck a chord with me – a good one. I’m glad to have you as my friend and I look forward to you being with us in December. Maybe then we can talk about it more.

    Comment by Dan DeGarmo | October 10, 2008

  2. Hey Edwin, it looks like you’re on the right track. Another thought I had…before and after services when you have those few minutes to socialize with the members and visitors, you might not even focus on ANY of your projects. In other words, put off “project time” till after “people time.” That way, you won’t have that conflict of interest.

    I definitely appreciate your thoughts. It is an easy trap to fall into, and I’d say most preachers struggle with it at times.

    Comment by Casey Head | October 10, 2008

  3. Wow! Great comments Dan. As a gospel preacher myself, I suddenly feel dwarfed by your example…well, actually by the example of Christ. I’ll be the first one to say that I am very deficient in the areas you described.

    Comment by Casey Head | October 10, 2008

  4. Part of the problem is the flawed view that many have of the “local pastor preacher.” As though he were supposed to be doing everything for everybody. It is this expectation that has kept me out of full-time “preaching.” I would also argue that “people” shouldn’t be the main thing for everybody. A wired introvert would shudder and curl up in an anxiety ball if that introvert were told to make people the main thing. Unfortunately, because of this, an introvert will get accused of being snobbish, etc. by people who really don’t understand. (This is not to say, of course, that an introvert wouldn’t be concerned about people; but let’s be honest, an introverted person is not going to be shaking everybody out the door after services.) Even Christ had to withdraw into the wilderness by himself to pray.

    Nevertheless, that doesn’t really help you. For a preacher in the COC, the main thing has to be people. And it has to be people because they won’t listen to you if they don’t know that you genuinely care about them. I have had to learn this, as I have taught classes where people perceived I was more interested in my own study interests rather than teaching truth in a manner that showed them I cared. It can be tough, especially when people misperceive your real intent. But it is a life-long struggle for those of us who relish digging into the text, and truth be told, relish study more than the “pastoring” aspect of church leading.

    Comment by Zenas | October 10, 2008

  5. I hope you don’t mind a comment that is not a suggestion. Instead its a ‘you’re not alone’ w/ an added question.
    You have woke me up to an area I need to reconsider. I totally relate to ‘walking past 20 people & never saying hello.’ Why Dan’s comment doesn’t help me is b/c I treat the practical suggestion as just another ‘project’ to have gotten done recently.
    Real life example:We just rebuilt a soup-kitchen & school for troubled kids in the community. The next week at a bible study where we gather for worship, I upset someone b/c I came in too task oriented to stop & greet him. Upon reflection the next day I wrote out the 9 projects I had on my mind, all of them dealt w/ people indirectly, but I failed to say ‘hi’ to the one guy who was not currently on my ‘list.’ (I need to put him on my list more, stop fearing him & his busy schedule.)
    How do you prioritize? The 9 tasks I had, that related to people, were more important than making sure to say ‘hi.’
    Thanks for the outlet to discuss & improve in these areas.

    Comment by Coulter A Wickerham | October 10, 2008

  6. Great thoughts guys. They are certainly helpful to me as a worker in a church.

    Let me broaden our perspective here. I didn’t write this merely as something about my work as an evangelist with a local congregation but as an aspect of any and every profession, using myself as an example of letting this principle slide.

    What are some good practical ways for keeping the main thing people regardless of profession?

    Comment by edwincrozier | October 10, 2008

  7. If I keep people the main thing in my profession, I will get fired and be guilty of not taking care of my responsibility to provide for my family. This is not to say that I do not care about people with whom I work, but I can’t sit in my office all day listening to people tell me their problems and concerns.

    I personally like Homer Hailey’s old approach. He had a sign above his desk that said, “Come to the point.” He’s right. While we are concerned about people, God has told us to work and provide for our families. If you want to talk with me, that’s fine. But, come to the point.

    Comment by Zenas | October 10, 2008

  8. “Come to the point”, eh?
    To me that breeds of impatience, lack of concern and “I don’t have time for you.” If my message to those I try to minister to is “Come to the point” I would fail miserably. How do I know this? Because I am a “Get to the point” person! Ask my wife. I struggle mightily with listening to someone. But we need to listen anyways! So it takes them 30 minutes to say what could have been said in 3. SO WHAT! Does it drive me bonkers? Yup! But who’s best interest am I to serve? Others or myself.

    Listen folks, we must have balance. I totally understand that. My first priority in life is my relationship with God and my family. But when it comes our individual respective ministries, we’ve got to be about showing loving and serving people. There is no motivational book, cd or dvd that will instill this desire. We must dig deep into ourselves and simply ask, “What is my purpose here?” Find others who are doing it and get their coucil and advice. I know that sounds corny but it is the truth. We will be about ‘people’ when we realize that we too are just people all on the same level of ground.

    Edwin, you are on the right track just by acknowledging your shortcoming in this area and reaching out for help.

    Coulter, as far as treating the ‘practical’ as another project, I think you’ve missed it. It’s not another item to fulfill on our “to-do” list it is a transformation of who we are. When we pass an elderly woman on the way in to get groceries and she looks like she could use a hand. Stop and help her with a smile. We don’t do that because we are in a hurry or we think she might be offended. It is who we are. We need to become servants – in every extension of that word. When I come out of Sam’s Club and they veterans are asking for donations, I pull up a chair and sit with them for just a few minutes, ask for their story and tell them ‘thanks’ for serving our country.

    3 Rules I live by that were given to me by a brother several years ago in Columbus:
    1. See the People
    2. See the People
    3. See the People

    Wow…I’m rambling. You’d think I’m passionate about this or something.

    Love to all.

    Comment by Dan DeGarmo | October 10, 2008

  9. Zenas,

    Does keeping the main thing people mean sitting in the office all day listening to everyone voice their concerns and woes? I don’t think it means that.

    I think you are a lawyer, but I’m not exactly sure what kind of law you practice so I don’t know exactly how the pay structure works for you. However, I’m betting the money you use to feed your family comes from people. My point is, if you lose sight of that, you will never be the lawyer you really could be. You will never reach the potential you could reach.

    If you forget that you are representing people or serving people, you may have some measure of success. You may already have. But if you merely view people as a means to accomplish your business of putting food on the table, I truly don’t think you will ever be as successful as you could be. Without listening to people, you won’t represent them well. Without listening to people you won’t know the right questions to ask. Without wanting to serve people you certainly won’t be practicing any kind of law worth practicing.

    That is my point.

    Even in law, you need to remember that the main business is people. The people you serve, the people you protect, the people you answer to. If you forget that, the people will no longer ask you to serve them, the people you answer to will invite you to answer to someone else and the people you protect…well, they won’t be protected any longer.

    Thanks for chiming in with the dissenting view though. It challenges me to clarify my thoughts here.

    Dan, thanks for continuing to add your good points.

    Comment by edwincrozier | October 10, 2008

  10. By the way,

    Let me just share a great example of how keeping the main thing people just helped me out.

    I received a phone call and it started out to sound like a telemarketing sales pitch for some “Christian” ministry. Usually, as soon as someone says “I’m calling on behalf of such and such ministry, have you heard of us…” I usually go into project mode. I don’t have time to listen to your spiel so I just cut them off and say I’m not interested. I often just hang up so I don’t have to here the five attempts to overcome my objections.

    Just now, I decided my business was people and the least I could do was listen to make sure I was dealing with a telemarketer in whose product I had no interest before I ended the call. Good thing I did to, because I just learned about some free training to help in ministering to those who are trying to leave a homosexual lifestyle. You can learn more about it at http://www.exodus.to/training.

    I’m not saying putting people first means listening to an entire unnecessary telemarketing spiel. But, it helped me out to at least listen long enough to know what I was really dealing with.

    Comment by edwincrozier | October 10, 2008

  11. I think ya’ll missed my point, but no biggie. Our definition of “main” was different. Lawyers are like that. They read what you say very literally. When a lawyer hears “the main point of your profession is people,” he says, “Now wait, work is for money, that’s the whole point of it – that’s the ‘main’ part of work.”

    I agree with what ya’ll are saying though.

    Comment by Zenas | October 10, 2008

  12. Zenas,

    Thanks for clarifying. I was actually a little worried about you for a minute there.

    Comment by edwincrozier | October 10, 2008

  13. And I would say that a main part of a Christian’s life (didn’t the Lord even say as much in the second commandment) is to love neighbor as self. Just so we’re clear that I’m not some sort of cold-hearted jerk.

    Comment by Zenas | October 10, 2008

  14. Hey Dan, what if I’m a pacifist? What do I do with the veterans then?

    Ok. Sorry.

    Comment by Zenas | October 10, 2008

  15. Ha!
    You walk by in disgust and with nose in the air you whistle the tune to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

    Comment by Dan DeGarmo | October 10, 2008

  16. Dan, what I was getting at is more in reaction to Edwin’s original comment about not stopping to say hello to people. Edwin sounded exactly like my problem. Your practical answer to his problem is what I’m already trying to do. Yet…

    I was so interested in getting to John Doe to talk about our ‘Soup Kitchen’ service/task/project, that I didn’t say hello to Sam Smith. Is that wrong? Should Sam be offended since I didn’t say hi, but walked straight to John? How do I prioritize between doing a people oriented task & a simple ‘hello.’

    I love to be a servant. I love to listen to people talk to me for 30 min. when it could be 3. I love to stop & chat w/ veterans at Wal-Mart. I love to serve others. I don’t struggle with those things, I struggle to do the small thing of saying hello, & can’t understand why I’m wrong for not being the one to initiate hello, couldn’t Sam say ‘hi’ to me rather than, ‘Well are you going to say hi to me Coulter?’

    Please understand Dan & Edwin, and any others, I’m looking for help on this. I love that Edwin posted about this specific thing b/c I’m pretty young in the faith, young in the work of an evangelist & this is exactly what has recently happened & I’d like to work on this area, b/c I tend to zone out in this way a lot. (Concerned about people oriented servant tasks, not concerned about ‘hi.’)

    Comment by Coulter A Wickerham | October 11, 2008

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